Why Do Bees Become Aggressive?
Managing and maintaining apiaries have become an increasingly common sight today. While some do it as a hobby which they are passionate about, others pursue beekeeping as a source of income or as a way to harvest some fresh organic honey. However, there is one common problem that you have to deal with during beekeeping. Aggressive bees! Though they are docile most of the time and can be handled carefully, there are some cases where the bees become extremely aggressive and difficult to deal with.
How exactly do you determine aggression in bees? There are a few symptoms that can warn you that your bees are angry or irritated. Some of them are:
● They form a dark cloud above the hive.
● You see a lot of dead bees at the entrance of the hives.
● Your bees suddenly become overprotective of the hive.
● They attack you or your pets.
Bees can become aggressive for a number of different reasons. Some of the common ones are as listed below:
1. No Queen in the Colony- This usually creates a lot of restlessness and aggression in the colony. The behavior generally stops when the queen is replaced either by the beekeeper or the colony.
2. Beekeeping Equipment- How often do you clean your vests or gloves. Previous stings that are left behind on your equipment may contain alarm pheromones that can trigger defensive behavior when you are inspecting or maintaining the hive.
3. Size of the colony- If left unchecked, the colony can grow to unwanted proportions. As the colony grows in size, the bees become protective of their honey and hive, leading to aggression.
4. Shortage of Nectar-producing Flowers- When the bees are not able to find enough nectar for their hives, they resort to robbing honey from other hives. This also makes them overly defensive of their own hives and honey. This leads to the bees forming dark clouds over the hive and generally aggressive behavior. You can also notice a lot of bees from other colonies fighting the bees at the entrance of the hives leading to a lot of dead bees fallen around. The fighting bees also release alarm pheromones that create an atmosphere of danger and aggression throughout the hive.
5. The Hives And Surroundings are Unclean- Dead bees, rotting hives or other factors can attract other predators such as wasps or yellow jackets to your hive. This can cause more alarm pheromones to be released, resulting in the bees being more aggressive.
6. Environment or Weather- Rainy weather, high humidity, or hot temperatures can also make the bees more irritable and aggressive.
7. New Queen with Aggressive Genes- When the new queen replaces the colony, if she has aggressive or Africanized genes, it can be the source of the problem for an aggressive hive.
Though these are the common sources of aggression in your bees, there still may be other factors that can trigger bad behavior. Gentle beekeeping practices, constant maintenance, and monitoring can ensure that your bees remain docile and efficient.